Search

Top 60 Oracle Blogs

Recent comments

bitmaps

Bitmap loading

Everyone “knows” that bitmap indexes are a disaster (compared to B-tree indexes) when it comes to DML. But at an event I spoke at recently someone made the point that they had observed that their data loading operations were faster when the table being loaded had bitmap indexes on it than when it had the equivalent B-tree indexes in place.

There’s a good reason why this can be the case.  No prizes for working out what it is – and I’ll supply an answer in a couple of days time.  (Hint – it may also be the reason why Oracle doesn’t use bitmap indexes to avoid the “foreign key locking” problem).

Answer

As Martin (comment 3) points out, there’s a lot of interesting information in the statistics once you start doing the experiment. So here’s some demonstration code, first we create a table with one of two possible indexes:

Bitmap question

If you know anything about bitmap indexes you probably know that a single entry in a bitmap index takes the form (key_value, starting rowid, ending rowid, BBC compressed bit string). So an entry covers a single value for a column over a range of rowids  in the table, and the string of bits for that (notional) range is reduce to a minimum by a compression mechanism that eliminate repeated zeros in multiples of 8.

So here’s a question – to which I don’t know the answer, although you may be surprised when you try to find it:

If you have a very large table and in one of its columns the first row and the last row (and no others) hold the value 0 (say) and you create a bitmap index on this column, what’s the largest number of rows you could have in the table before Oracle would HAVE to create two index entries in order to cover both rows ?